The Hunger Games is Uncomfortably Realistic


Domenica Peloso

The Hunger Games universe makes a surprising come back after Netflix released all four movies for a limited time. Suzan Collin’s story remains as one of the most notorious dystopian novels of all time due to her incorporation of timely political allegory.

Domenica Peloso, A&E Editor

The chaos-filled dystopia that is The Hunger Games universe has made an unexpected come back after Netflix released all four movies for a limited time. This resurgence has sparked a widespread Hunger Games renaissance on several social media platforms. Although this story may seem outlandish and absurd, a closer look into its underlying themes reveals that this story is more familiar than many may think. Whether someone is new to the series or has been a fan ever since 2008, this story has captivated audiences from all generations.  

“I was about nine or ten years old when I read The Hunger Games series for the first time, and I have been obsessed ever since,” says sophomore Peyton Esparza. 

Although this sudden Hunger Games fever seems like a happy accident, Netflix’s surprise release of The Hunger Games movies was very intentional. In an effort to spark interest in her newest movie adaptation: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Suzan Collin’s movies were strategically placed on Netflix only months before her drop date. After an eight year hiatus, this long awaited prequel will hit theaters on November 17, 2023.

What makes The Hunger Games so timeless is the amount of political allegory weaved into the storyline. The plot tackles various issues ranging from class struggles, to governmental destruction, to women’s rights. The story takes place in a post-war country, divided into thirteen districts known as Panem. At the heart of this country is the Capitol, a metropolis inhabited by only the wealthiest elite. 

As punishment for the district’s previous uprising, an inhumane competition, known as The Hunger Games, was put into place. This competition requires one boy and one girl from each district to fight to the death, in a twisted arena. The President, Coriolanus Snow, is a ruthless leader who governs in an unjust, corrupt manner. In the 74th annual Hunger Games, tributes Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Malark were “reaped” from district thirteen. Through strategic maneuvers and their open opposition to traditional Capitol rules, both tributes managed to survive the games. This defiance sparked a fierce uprising against the Capitol that resulted in several casualties and sacrifices. 

The participants weren’t seen as actual people, but as objects that couldn’t argue or fight against the higher powers

— Esparza

In Catching Fire (the second book of The Hunger Games series), chapter six, Katniss and Peeta attend a party at President Snow’s mansion that celebrates their success in The Hunger Games. At this party, Katniss becomes so full she can no longer eat anything else. In response, Katniss’ entourage informs her of an underground Capitol custom: throwing up in order to shovel more food into your stomach. Both Katniss and Peeta are horrified by this overwhelming gluttony and greed. Collin’s inclusion of this exchange is meant to comment on the staggering class divisions throughout Panem, in which some citizens are starving to death while others are over-eating out of pure selfishness. 

Another detail that emphasizes Collin’s commentary on class division is  the outrageous outfits the wealthy elite of Panem wear. The most apparent example of this opulence is in the character Effie who, from her very first appearance, is pictured wearing a bright green suit, pink hair, and flashy accessories. The Capitols excessive wealth ultimately leads to outrage, chaos, and a desire for change⸺a recurring pattern all throughout history similar to the French Revolution of 1789 and debates over tax distribution today. 

Today, the richest 1% have almost twice as much money as the bottom 99% of the world’s population. 

Another controversial topic discussed in The Hunger Games series is a woman’s agency over their body. In chapter eighteen of Catching Fire, Peeta announces on live television that Katniss is pregnant, in an attempt to prevent the 75th Annual Hunger Games. This announcement elicits an immediate reaction from the audience, who begin to protest the games. 

This scene shows just how quickly a woman’s value is changed once she becomes pregnant. This way of thinking makes the statement that an unborn baby is of more importance than a living, breathing woman. This idea connects back to arguments over abortion, and whether a woman has the right to get an abortion. Just recently, debates over women’s rights were at an all time high after Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022. 

Suzan Collin’s masterpiece is a piece of literature that will undoubtedly withstand the tests of time. The continuous fight over class divisions, governmental destruction, and power struggles that plague our society ensure that this story will never lose its importance. The trials and tribulations of this series provides an important message to all: that greed, gluttony, and corruption can only lead to disaster.